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Aug 02, 2017 at 10:11

21st century India seems to have started a new trend – rejecting, ridiculing and repressing dissent. Be it through violence, social media trolling or rape threats, we have forgotten what it means to listen to others, and are instead seeking to silence them, so that our voice may be heard. That’s still a perspective that can be understood, but actively ridiculing someone, while ignoring the reasoning or motive behind the  actions, is straight up bullying. And this bullying is exactly what Gurmehar Kaur became a victim of.

What motivates this behaviour? I can’t say for sure, but one of the reasons can be that we are so used to listening to our own voices. We live in social media bubbles, following pages we like, unfollowing pages we don’t like, and I’m not saying that isn’t okay- of course most people like surrounding themselves with like minded ideas, but that doesn’t mean we go out and attack ideas we don’t agree with. Now more than ever, we need to start listening to our so called intellectual enemies, because day by day, gross misconceptions about either side of the political spectrum are growing, and we are becoming more and more skeptical about our own people.

Additionally, when did violence become a means of expressing your dissent? Why does India think it is acceptable to threaten a woman with sexual violence on expressing her opinion? Have we become so incapable of talking out our differences? Do we not believe in the power of conversation anymore?

And if that is the case, then India is confronted with a sad truth – the largest democracy in the world, has forgotten the meaning of what it means to be democratic. Accepting differences, promoting equality and acknowledging dissent is all part and parcel of being a member of a democratic nation. Your duty to the country doesn’t start and end with resharing the achievements of our country on Facebook. If you want to help out, start by listening to those you don’t agree with, and understanding their point of view. If everyone talks over each other, no work is going to take place, and you’re going to end up being no better than the members of parliament you saw on television and mocked for  throwing papers and chairs at each other, struggling to make themselves heard.

Lusha Jetley

Student Reporter

March 2017